Grades 9-12

Unit 1, Lesson 1

Air Pollution Word Search


The students will:

  • develop an understanding of the vocabulary and terms associated with air pollution; and
  • gain an appreciation for the basic connections between health problems, automobile exhaust, and air pollution.


English, Language Arts and Reading

  • English: 6, 6A, 6E


  • Biology: 10A
  • Geology, Meterology, and Oceanography: 12B

Social Studies

  • 23


Approximately 30 minutes in the classroom plus discussion time


  • Air Pollution Word Search
  • Dictionary (you may wish to assign students to search out the definitions of these word search terms as an additional activity or quiz subject matter)

Teacher Preparation:

Air pollution is a problem in many areas of the United States. It can damage trees, lakes, animals, and air quality, and can make people sick. It can also damage buildings and other structures. Air pollution can cause haze, reducing visibility in national parks and sometimes interfering with aviation. The federal government regulates air pollution in order to protect human health and the environment. There are several words that are used when discussing the subject of air pollution. This word search is a simple, quick exercise you can use as a warm-up to discussions about air pollution. This activity helps trigger students to begin thinking about the vocabulary associated with automobile emissions and air pollution.


  1. Begin with a brainstorming discussion by asking students what comes to mind when they think of:

    • air,
    • air pollution,
    • vehicle emissions,
    • smog (ask: what do you think smog is?), and
    • healthy lungs.
  2. Have a student write the generated ideas on the board and explain that air quality and air pollution encompass all of the ideas listed on the board and more. Have the students study and define the words they will need to find in the Air Pollution Word Search; then have the students complete the word search and discuss their findings and definitions.


You may wish to have students break into small groups to work on this activity. One student may complete the word search while his or her partner searches a classroom dictionary for the definitions to these terms. A simple definition quiz may be developed using this list of terms.


Classroom Materials
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  • "Better Air—You Hold the Key" school outreach program, prepared by the Junior League of Denver, with technical assistance provided by the Colorado Department of Health, Air Pollution Control Division.

Source: TCEQ,

Clean Air Tips